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Aug. 1, 1637: " Squa Sachem and Webber Cowet did acknowledge in Court, that they had received of Mr. Gibbins, for the town of Charlestown, 36s. for the land between Charlestown and Wenotomies River, which they acknowledge themselves to be satisfied for.”
Another grant, by the “ Squa Sachem of Mistick,” of lands bordering on Medford, is as follows:
“The 15th of the 2d mo., 1639: Wee, Web-Cowet and Squa Sachem, do sell unto the inhabitants of the towne of Charlestowne all the land within the line granted them by the Court (excepting the farmes and the ground on the west of the two great ponds, called Misticke Ponds), from the south side of Mr. Nowell's lott, neere the upper end of the ponds, unto the little runnet that cometh from Capt. Cook's mills, which the Squa reserveth to their use, for her life, for the Indians to plant and hunt upon, and the weare above the ponds they also reserve for the Indians to fish at whiles the Squa liveth; and, after the death of Squa Sachem, she doth leave all her lands, from Mr. Mayhue's house to neere Salem, to the present Governor, Mr. John Winthrop, sen., Mr. Increase Nowell, Mr. John Willson, Mr. Edward Gibons, to dispose of, and all Indians to depart; and, for sattisfaction from Charlestowne, wee acknowledge to have received, in full sattisfaction, twenty and one coates, ninten fathom of wampom, and three bushels of corn. In witness whereof, we have here unto sett o'r hands, the day and year above named.
“ The mark of SQUA SACHEM, m'c. “ The mark of WEB-Cowet, m."
This queen died in Medford before 1662, as appears from the following documents in the 2d vol. of Middlesex Registry of Deeds: —
“Mr. Francis Norton and Nicholas Davison (Mr. Cradock's agent) do, in the name of the inhabitants of Charlestown, lay claim to the tract of land reserved to Squa Sachem during her lifetime, and which is at present possessed and improved by Thomas Gleison of Charlestown; this land bounded on the east by Mystic Pond, on the west by Cambridge Common, on the south by the land of Mr. Cooke, on the north formerly in the possession of Mr. Increase Nowell.
“This demand and claim was made in the person of John Fennell and Mr. William Sims, the 25th of March, 1662, at the house of Thomas Gleison. “ Entered 29th of March, 1662, by T. DANFORTH. “Signed,
“ Joun FENNELL. “ Wm. SIMMES."
Sagamore John, whose Indian name was Wonohaquaham, lived in Medford, and probably occupied at times the house of his father. He was friendly to our ancestors ; he gave them permission to settle, and afterwards apprised them of the premeditated assault of the unfriendly Indians. He died in Medford, Dec. 5, 1633. His last hours are thus described in “ New England's First Fruits :"
“Sagamore John, Prince of Massaquesers, was, from our very first landing, more courteous, ingenious, and, to the English, more loving than others of them. He desired to learn and speak our language, and loved to imitate us in our behavior and apparel, and began to hearken after our God and his ways, and would much commend Englishmen and their God, saying (much good men, much good God) and being convinced that our condition and ways were better far than theirs, did resolve and promise to leave the Indians, and come live with us; but yet, kept down by the fears and scoffs of the Indians, had not power to make good his purpose; yet went on, not without some trouble of mind and secret plucks of conscience, as the sequel declares; for, being struck with death, fearfully cried out of himself that he had not come to live with us, to have known our God better. But now,' said he, 'I must die, the God of the English is much angry with me, and will destroy me. Ah! I was afraid of the scoffs of the wicked Indians; yet my child shall live with the English, and learn to know their God, when I am dead. I will give him to Mr. Wilson : he is much good man, and much love me.' So sent for Mr. Wilson to come to him, and committed his only child to his care, and so died.”
The Indians were powerful on this shore; and Gosnold, who was at Cape Cod in 1602, says “this coast is very full of people.” Capt. Smith, who was here in 1614, says it “ was well inhabited with many people.” Sir Ferdinando Gorges adds, “At our first discovery of those coasts, we found it very populous, the inhabitants stout and warlike.” Speaking of the Mattachusetts, Capt. Smith observes, “ For their trade and merchandise, to each of their principal families or habitations, they have divers towns and people belonging, and, by their relations and descriptions, more than twenty several habitations. It is the Paradise of all those parts; for here are many isles planted with corn, groves, mulberries, savage gardens, and good harbors. The seacoast, as you pass, shows you all along large cornfields."
This picture of Indian prosperity was almost wholly effaced by the terrible plague of 1617 and 1618. Morton says of it, “They died on heaps as they lay in their houses; and the
dens, anes planted Paradise.com
living, that were able to shift for themselves, would run away and let them die, and let their carcasses lie above the ground without burial. And the bones and skulls upon the several places of their habitations made such a spectacle, that it seemed to me a new-found Golgotha.”
Dermer, who was at Cape Cod in 1619, says: “I passed along the coast, where I found some eminent plantations, not long since populous, now utterly void. In another place a remnant remains, but not free from sickness; their disease the plague.”
Rev. Francis Higginson, in 1629, speaking of the Sagamores, says: “ Their subjects, above twelve years since, were swept away by a great and grievous plague, that was amongst them, so that there are very few left to inhabit the country.” Gookin says: “I have discoursed with some old Indians, that were then youths (in the time of the plague), who say that the bodies all over were exceedingly yellow; describing it by a yellow garment they showed me, both before they died and afterwards."
It is estimated that, on the arrival of the English, there were about twenty thousand Indians within fifty miles of Plymouth. Their government was rather patriarchal than monarchical. Several hundreds, united under one head, made a family; and their head was called Sagamore. When several families were united under one head, that head was called Sachem. The territory for many miles round Mystic River was owned and occupied by small tribes or detach-, ments, each having its own head. The land on which we live belonged to Sagamore John. He had a brother James, who was Sagamore at Saugus. Their father bequeathed his sovereignty in equal proportions to his two sons, as was the common rule. The Sagamores were subordinates to the higher chief. · The Naumkeags owned the territory from North River, in Salem, to Charles River; and their numbers were computed at six thousand.
Hubbard says: “Near the mouth of Charles River, there used to be the general rendezvous of all the Indians, both on the north and south side of the country. It was the seat of the great Sachem, who was much venerated by all the plantations of Indians. At Mistick was the seat of a Sagamore, near adjoining which is a great creek that meets with the mouth of Charles River, and so makes the haven of Boston.”
The records of Charlestown say: “ About the months of
April or May, A. D. 1630, there was a great design of the Indians, from the Narragansetts, and all round about us to the eastward in all parts, to cut off the English, which John Sagamore (who always loved the English) revealed to the inhabitants of this town.”
Such threats as these induced Mr. Cradock's men to build brick houses which would answer the uses of forts. For this reason, Charlestown this year “erected a small fort on the top of Town Hill;" the women helped the men to dig and build.
So destructive had been “the plague” (or yellow fever) that Mr. Higginson says, 1629: “ The greatest Sagamores about us cannot make above three hundred men (warriors), and other less Sagamores have not above fifteen subjects, and others near about us but two." Gov. Dudley, in 1631, says : “Upon the river Mistick is situated Sagamore John; and upon the river Saugus, Sagamore James, his brother. Both these brothers command not above thirty or forty men, for aught I can learn.” We have it from Gov. Winthrop, that in 1633 Sagamores John and James, and most of their people, died of the small pox. Of the subjects of John, thirty were buried in one day by Mr. Maverick. The disease spread to Piscatoqua, where it proved mortal to all the Indians, except two or three.
Thus we learn that the region round Mystic River was « almost wholly deserted.” It became a dreaded region, and Indian superstition kept it so; for Johnson says, “ The neighboring Indians did abandon those places for fear of death.” A writer of 1632 says the “peninsular,” meaning the space between Boston and Medford, “ is full of Indians.” We apprehend that this statement needs qualification. Thus reduced and disheartened, it was not difficult for our Medford ancestors to govern them. Wisdom, virtue, and valor have a natural right to govern. The strong characters of our fathers carried a magnetic influence to the Indian's heart. He saw that they had intelligence to plan, courage to persevere, and power to execute; and the natural consequence was submission. But it was not the rule of tyrants on the one hand, nor the subjection of slaves on the other: it was the friendly influence of Christian missionaries among heathen, for whose conversion they labored and prayed. Gov. Cradock writes to his agents here, “ Above all, we pray you be careful there be none in our precincts permitted to do any injury (in the least kind) to the heathen people ; and if any offend in that way, let them receive due correction.” Our Medford settlers were forbidden to buy lands of the Indians without leave; and they were forbidden to sell them “strong water.” We find the following record, May 9, 1632 : “ It is agreed that there shall be a trucking-house appointed in every plantation, whither the Indians may resort to trade, to avoid their coming to several houses.” The Indians had great confidence in our fathers; and nothing was omitted which justice or humanity required. An Indian was murdered in the Old Colony; and three Englishmen, fairly convicted, were hung for it. Sagamore John complains (March 8, 1631) that two of his wigwams had been burnt by the English. He was immediately paid for them, and went away perfectly satisfied. Eliot's translation of the Sacred Scriptures into the Indian tongue (1648) was circulated by our fathers among the tribes of this region.
This godlike man speaks of the Mistick Indians” with affection and respect in a letter, Nov. 13, 1649, and says they were ingenious and good and prayerful, and came often to the place where he preached. They were called “Praying Indians."
August 7, 1632: “Sagamore John promised against the next year, and so ever after, to fence their corn against all kinds of cattle.” “Chickataubott and Sagamore John promised to make satisfaction for whatever wrong that any of their men shall do to any of the English, to their cattle, or any other wares.”
March 7, 1644: By solemn compact, all the Indians in this jurisdiction put themselves under the government and protection of the Massachusetts Colony. The General Court, with true Christian policy, institute special legal tribunals for the trial of their causes. The laws enacted concerning them were wise and tolerant. Among them were these: Titles to land to be purchased at satisfactory prices; Indians never to be molested; not allowed fire-arms; a crime to sell them firearms or ammunition; intermarriage with them discouraged ; strange Indians to be kept out. Governor Winslow, in a letter, dated May 1, 1676, says: “I think I can clearly say, that the English did not possess one foot of land in this Colony but what was fairly obtained by honest purchase of the Indian proprietors.” Governor Cradock (1629) says: “If any of the savages pretend right of inheritance to all or any part of